The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a plea moved by the Gujarat Congress challenging the decision to use None of the Above (NOTA) option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls in the state. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear the plea after senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before it and sought an urgent hearing. Sibal told the apex court that there is no statutory provision with regard to NOTA in the Constitution. As per government officials, the directions to use NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections were enforced in January 2014 after the Supreme Court in 2013 made it mandatory to have NOTA option in EVMs.
Yesterday, the Congress had approached the Election Commission against the use of NOTA option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, claiming it was violative of the Constitution and electoral laws, but the poll panel maintained that it was not a new direction and was introduced in 2014. Four candidates are in the fray for three Rajya Sabha seats to which the election will take place on August 8. Apart from BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani, the ruling party has decided to field Balwantsinh Rajput against the lone Congress candidate, Ahmed Patel.
In the Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorized party agent before putting it in the ballot box. If a voter (MLA) defies the party directive and votes for someone else or uses NOTA option, he cannot be disqualified as a legislator.But the party is free to take disciplinary action including expulsion. The defiant voter can continue to be an MLA and his vote can also not be invalidated for defying party directions, the EC rules say.